The Kelowna Chiefs will open the first round of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs this weekend as they host the Summerland Steam in a best-of-seven first round playoff series with games Friday and Saturday nights at Rutland Arena.
The Chiefs finished off its season with a win and loss on the weekend and at 32-15-1-1, the team has secured home ice advantage through the Okanagan-Shuswap conference playoffs.
“It’s nice that we have home ice guaranteed for the first three rounds, unlike last year where we had to do it the other way around.” said Chiefs general manager Grant Sheridan. “It means less travel and it means games one and two as well as five and seven will be at home. Those are pivotal games in every series.”
Last season the Chiefs played the upset card en route to the KIJHL championship series, where they fell just short. After finishing fourth in the Okanagan Division, Kelowna battled its way all the way to the final series. This year however they will be one of the favourites heading into playoffs after putting up the third best record overall in the KIJHL behind only Castlegar and Fernie.
“We came up four wins short last year,” said Sheridan. “We won 12 and we needed to win 16. You get that close and you don’t want to lose. But we have another shot this year. We have home ice advantage and we know what it takes to get there.”
The Chiefs have a veteran team with several players back from last year’s club, a solid crew of 20-year-old players as well as the first and fourth leading scorers in the entire KIJHL.
Jordan Salahor of the Chiefs won the overall KIJHL scoring race with 31 goals and 52 assists for 83 points while rookie Nick Jospehs was fourth in the league in scoring with 33 goals, 43 helpers for 76 points.
Tickets are now available for this upcoming weekends games by contacting the Chiefs office at (250) 862 8020 or going to the team’s web site at www.kelownachiefs.com. They will also be for sale at the door for this weekend’s games at Rutland Arena.